Changeling’s Choice by Rachael Ashdown

changeling75x99Vote at the end of this episode!

In the previous episode, Linnea burned the huldra Dania with hot wax and made her escape with Soren. As the readers suggested, they will return the trinket to the dwarves, but only after crossing the bridge.

Episode 11

“Here’s your orb,” Linnea said, holding out the round sphere. Greedily, one of the dwarves reached out to take it, but the scullery maid snatched it back, holding it tightly to her chest. Soren, still dazed, stood behind her, smile upon his face. Linnea hoped she would not need backup.

“Well? Hand it over!”

“Not until you let us pass,” Linnea demanded, scowling darkly.

“Ye think ye can talk to us that way? We can take it by force if ye wish.”

“I do not,” Linnea said firmly, sticking out her bottom lip defiantly. “I just want to be sure you grant us safe passage across the bridge. No funny business until we are on our way.”

“And what guarantee do we have that you will hand over the orb?”

“Do you want to wait until the huldra comes to take it back?”

This made the dwarf pause, his beard twitching as he thought about what would happen if the sorceress came upon them all. Linnea did not know how powerful she was, but she guessed it would not be good based on the concerned glance the dwarves exchanged.

“A’right,” the dwarf Linnea thought might be Evert said with a scowl. “Ye can pass our bridge. But only if we get to hold onto that boy until we get our orb.”

Linnea puzzled over it for a moment, considering the positives and negatives of agreeing to this proposal. They had to cross; at least Soren thought they did. He would surely forgive her for whatever consequences might occur, so long as they got across the river. At least, she hoped he would. He was still her prince, and her best bet to get out of the kitchens. She would do whatever it took to never go back to that awful place again.

“You promise that Soren will be released? You will not harm him?”

“We promise,” said the dwarf she thought was Erik with a wicked grin from under his beard. She did not like that look, but she had little choice. If they did not cross the bridge, they would probably have to deal with the huldra that was undoubtedly on her way after them as they stood there on the riverbank.

Taking a deep breath, Linnea nodded. Taking Soren’s arm, she led the dazed fool onto the bridge, letting the dwarf that was probably Evert take him in a firm grip as she continued across the stone structure, Balder following obediently, his own trance gone thanks to the distance they had put between themselves and Dania.

When she reached the opposite bank, Linnea sighed with relief. “Okay,” she said, turning back to the dwarves. “Here is your orb. Let us go.” The dwarf let go of Soren, and reached his hand towards the sphere in Linnea’s hand.

“As ye wish,” the dwarf Erik cackled, and he reached out and touched one of the ruins on the orb. In an instant, Linnea, Soren, and Balder were gone.   Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.

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